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Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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September 30, 2013

In-Depth Issues:

Khamenei's Fatwa Against Nuclear Arms Does Not Exist (MEMRI)
    President Obama told the UN General Assembly on Sept. 24: "The Supreme Leader has issued a fatwa against the development of nuclear weapons."
    In fact, such a fatwa was never issued by Supreme Leader Khamenei and does not exist.
    The deception regarding "Khamenei's fatwa" has been promoted by the Iranian regime for years. Each time, the fatwa was given a different year of issue - 2005, 2007, or 2012 - but the text was never presented.
    See also Compilation of Khamenei's Newest Fatwas Contains No Nuclear Fatwa (MEMRI)
    A compilation of 493 of the "newest" fatwas issued by Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, published on July 30, 2013, does not include any fatwa prohibiting the development, possession, or use of a nuclear bomb.

Syrian Chemical Disclosure Falls Short of U.S. Count - Adam Entous and Julian Barnes (Wall Street Journal)
    Syria has declared fewer chemical-weapons sites than U.S. and Israeli intelligence agencies believe it has, U.S. and other Western officials said on Friday, hours before the UN Security Council unanimously adopted a resolution for the destruction of the arsenal.
    The Syrian government declared a week ago that it had just over 30 chemical-weapons sites, though the U.S. and Israel believe it has 50-plus sites.

Israel Warned Kenya of Nairobi Attack (AFP-Al-Arabiya)
    Cabinet ministers and Kenya's army chief had received information warning of a plan to carry out a major attack on a Nairobi mall by Islamist gunmen, security sources said Saturday, confirming an intelligence report leaked in Kenya's The Nation newspaper.
    The report said Israel had warned of plans to attack Israeli property in September.
    The Westgate mall, attacked on September 21, is part owned by Israelis and had long been considered a prime potential target.

Israelis Send Aid and Clothing to Syrian Refugees - Anav Silverman (Huffington Post)
    "There are a number of Israeli citizens and organizations involved with aid distribution to Syrian refugees, which have sent hundreds of tons of humanitarian aid to Jordan," said Dr. Nir Boms from Haifa University.
    Boms is involved with an Israeli group called Hand in Hand with Syrian Refugees, initiated in early 2013.
    In May, Hand in Hand sent a truckload with 5,000 winter jackets and sweaters, along with 1,000 pairs of shoes and toys, with the aid of Operation Blessing, an American Christian charity.
    An Israeli mom from northern Israel spearheaded the distribution project, collecting thousands of clothing items and raising money to make the project happen.

Hong Kong Magnate to Donate $130 Million to Israel's Technion - Joshua Mitnick (Wall Street Journal)
    Hong Kong magnate Li Ka-shing said he will donate $130 million to Israel's leading engineering university, the Technion, to help establish a technology institute and innovation center at Shantou University in China's Guangdong Province.
    Li, who had invested in Waze, a traffic-mapping start-up recently purchased by Google for $1.1 billion, said he will use proceeds from the acquisition for the Technion donation.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Israel Arrests an Iranian Spy - William Booth
    Israeli security officials said Sunday that they have arrested a Belgian businessman of Iranian descent for spying on Israel and gathering intelligence on possible terrorism targets. The Israel Security Agency (ISA) released photographs that it said were taken from the suspect's camera that included the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv.
        The Iranian agent, Ali Mansouri, had made three trips to Israel over the past two years and was working to make business contacts and establish a covert base of operations. He was recruited by Iran's Quds Force, a unit of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps charged with "extraterritorial operations" of assassination, insurgency and attacks, according to U.S. Defense Department officials.
        "During questioning, the suspect...detailed his recruitment and activation process by Iranian intelligence elements," the ISA said. Mansouri was instructed after each visit to return to Iran to be debriefed by his handlers. (Washington Post)
  • Obama and Rouhani Speak by Phone - Peter Baker
    U.S. President Barack Obama and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani became the first leaders of their countries to speak since 1979 in a 15-minute phone call Friday. A senior administration official said Obama repeated that he respected Iran's right to develop civilian nuclear energy, but insisted on concessions to prevent development of weapons.
        By talking on the phone instead of in person, Rouhani avoided a politically problematic photo of himself with Obama, which could have inflamed hard-liners in Iran wary of his outreach to the U.S. "The economic pain now is sufficient to oblige a telephone call, though not a face-to-face meeting," said Reuel Marc Gerecht, a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. "We will see whether the pain is sufficient for the Iranians to shut the heavy-water plant at Arak and reverse Iran's path to a rapid breakout capacity with enriched uranium."  (New York Times)
  • Kerry: Sanctions to Stay Until We Know Iran's Nuclear Intentions Are Peaceful - Scott Pelley
    U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry told CBS' "Sixty Minutes" on Sunday: "Iran needs to take rapid steps, clear and convincing steps, to live up to the international community's requirements regarding nuclear programs....They could immediately open up inspection of the Fordo facility, a secret facility and underground in the mountains....They could offer to cease voluntarily to take enrichment above a certain level, because there's no need to have it at a higher level for a peaceful program."
        "President Obama clearly welcomes President Rouhani's overtures. But words are not going to replace actions. What we need are actions that prove that we and our allies, our friends in the region, can never be threatened by this program....The United States is not going to lift the sanctions until it is clear that a very verifiable, accountable, transparent process is in place, whereby we know exactly what Iran is going to be doing with its program....A good deal means that it is absolutely accountable, failsafe in its measures to make certain this is a peaceful program."  (CBS News)
        See also U.S.: Any Agreement with Iran "Must Be Fully Verifiable and Enforceable" - Fareed Zakaria
    U.S. National Security Advisor Susan Rice said Sunday: "The message that President Rouhani that...they only seek nuclear power for peaceful purposes. Obviously, we and others in the international community have every reason to be skeptical of that and we need to test it and any agreement must be fully verifiable and enforceable....Right now, Iran remains in non-compliance with its obligations under the Security Council resolutions."
        "It's way too soon to presume either the prospect of an agreement on the nuclear program, which we hope to be able to achieve, but we're quite sober about the potential for that."  (CNN)
  • U.S. Says Iran Hacked Navy Computers - Julian E. Barnes and Siobhan Gorman
    U.S. officials said Iran hacked unclassified Navy computers in recent weeks. The Iranian intruders penetrated a computer network used for email and the service's internal intranet. The attacks were carried out by hackers working for Iran's government or by a group acting with the approval of Iranian leaders. The officials didn't believe Iranian agents stole information of significant value, but the incident showed a more potent Iranian hacking capability than previously believed. "Iran is very active," said James Lewis, a cybersecurity specialist at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. "They're better than we thought....They're getting help from the Russians."  (Wall Street Journal)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Al-Nusra Front Forging Al-Qaeda Base in Syria
    In June 2013, al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri declared the Al-Nusra Front (Jabhat al-Nusra) to be the official al-Qaeda branch in Syria. The Al-Nusra Front seeks to establish an Islamic Caliphate in Greater Syria, which includes Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Israel and the Palestinian Authority.
        The Al-Nusra Front is hostile to Israel and the West and rejects Western values (such as democracy, pluralism and freedom of worship). It is also hostile to Syria's minorities, especially the Alawites and the Shi'ites, whom it regards as infidels. It regards jihad as the personal duty of every Muslim.
        Al-Qaeda operatives who gained experience in Iraq are prominent in the Al-Nusra Front command, while the rank and file is made up of Syrian operatives and thousands of jihad fighters from Libya, Tunisia, Chechnya, Saudi Arabia and Egypt. There are also many hundreds from the West (prominent among whom are 500-600 volunteers from Europe, mainly France and the UK). (Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center)
  • Israel Seals Holes in West Bank Security Barrier after Two Soldiers Killed - Nasouh Nazzal
    Israel sealed holes in its security barrier following the killing of two soldiers in the West Bank, blocking thousands of Palestinians who had previously worked in Israel without work permits. Sources at the Palestine General Federation of Trade Unions and Labor said that Israeli police had been given strict instructions to intensify their searches for and arrests of illegal Palestinian workers. "The general working conditions have recently changed inside Israel, and Palestinian illegal workers have felt the serious consequences and generally have stopped sneaking into Israel for work," said the sources. (Gulf News-Dubai)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • Rouhani at the UN: Why Israel Remains Unconvinced - Michael Herzog
    While welcoming a "genuine diplomatic solution" to the Iranian nuclear challenge, Israel's prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, this week warned the world not to be "fooled by half-measures that merely provide a smokescreen for Iran's continual pursuit of nuclear weapons." From Israel's perspective, spinning open-ended diplomacy while centrifuges continue to spin is a dangerous situation.
        When nearing Netanyahu's red line with its 20% enrichment, Iran converted most of the excess amounts to oxide form, which could be reprocessed back in a matter of weeks. At the same time, it added many centrifuges and is installing a new centrifuge generation (IR-2m), about four times faster than the old type. With its expanding arsenal and with the more advanced centrifuges, Iran may be able in the coming year to break out to a bomb's worth of enriched uranium (over 90%) within several weeks, and to a nuclear device within a few months. Looming over the horizon is an even more dangerous plutonium program: a heavy-water reactor is under construction at Arak.
        With international sanctions proving crippling - and driving Iran to seek a diplomatic exit - it is important not to relax them before the regime proves it has really changed course, or else it will be impossible to step the pressure up again. It is equally important not to allow this diplomatic endeavor to drag on endlessly while Iran develops its program to a critical breakout capacity. IDF Brig.-Gen. (ret.) Michael Herzog held senior positions in the office of Israel's minister of defense, and is now an international fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. (Guardian-UK)
  • Yes to an Agreement that Distances Iran from the Bomb - Amos Yadlin
    Does the Iranian charm campaign signal a willingness to forfeit a military nuclear capability, or is it yet another attempt to attain this option at the lowest possible cost? The U.S. and Israel must concentrate on the parameters that widen the distance between Iran and the bomb should Iran unilaterally abrogate the agreement. This would entail a strict limit on the number of centrifuges spinning in Iran, enrichment limited to 3.5%, removal of all enriched material from Iran, and return of enriched material to Iran only in a form that cannot be used in nuclear bombs.
        An agreement that freezes Iran's program at its current extent - with material that if enriched to a military level will be enough for 7 to 9 bombs - is a bad agreement and is unacceptable. A freeze at this level and a functional Fordo enrichment facility are an excellent foundation for a bomb at any time Iran decides to withdraw from the agreement.
        There are risks inherent in the negotiations process itself: it is essential that the process have a predetermined final date. Iran is liable to resort once again to delay tactics to buy time to advance its nuclear project. Despite all the moderation on display, the Iranians have not conceded a thing. IDF Maj. Gen. (ret.) Amos Yadlin, former head of Military Intelligence, is director of INSS. (Institute for National Security Studies-Tel Aviv University)

The Holes in Iranian President Rouhani's Charm Offensive - Dore Gold (Israel Hayom)

  • Iranian President Rouhani wrote in the Washington Post that Iran's "peaceful nuclear energy program" was for "generating nuclear power" and "diversifying" Iran's energy resources. Yet a U.S. State Department study showed that Iran had enough oil and gas to supply the country for at least 200 years.
  • Then there is the question of why Iran insisted that it must enrich its own uranium by itself. Tehran actually had only one working reactor for producing electricity at Bushehr, which used uranium fuel that was supplied by Russia. So why spend billions on enrichment plants at Natanz and Fordo? Finland, Spain, South Korea, and Sweden all import enriched uranium rather than build an uneconomical enrichment infrastructure.
  • When Iran began to enrich uranium in June 2010 to the 20% level, its spokesmen argued that this was for the small Tehran Research Reactor to manufacture medical isotopes. While a year later, Iran had enough 20%-enriched uranium to meet its demand for medical isotopes for at least seven years, it continued to produce more 20%-enriched uranium.
  • In a highly classified briefing in February 2008 given to ambassadors to the IAEA in Vienna, Iranian documents detailed how to design a warhead for the Iranian Shahab-3 ballistic missile. An IAEA report from May 2011 detailed a military research program that was based on "the removal of the conventional high explosive payload from the warhead of the Shahab-3 missile and replacing it with a spherical nuclear payload."

    The writer, a former Israeli ambassador to the UN, is president of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.

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